Not that long ago, Gartner published a report that said 87% of marketing organizations are pursuing personalization in their marketing efforts. But then predicted that by 2025, 80% of marketers will abandon personalization. 

So what’s going on? Where did Gartner draw their prediction from? And what will happen to the 71% of consumers who expect companies to deliver personalized interactions?

This statement caused quite a stir, but recent research in the Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services suggests a different personalization trend. Instead, it predicts that businesses will invest 30% more in personalization over the next three years. And the value of the personalization software market will continue to increase from $620 million in 2020 to $2.2 billion by 2026

How privacy concerns affect personalization

One of the reasons is that more than ever, companies are dealing with “the perils of customer data management.” People are becoming more aware of issues around data privacy, and companies are under more scrutiny than ever to be transparent about how they collect, use, and store consumer data. With new data security laws such as the GDPR, the California Consumer Privacy Act, and PIPEDA (in Canada) personalized content is harder to create because:

  • Marketers have less access to consumer data than ever before.
  • The data that’s available to marketers doesn’t come with helpful insights on how to improve the impact of marketing efforts.
  • A general decline in customer trust, making it less likely that people are willing to share their data. 
  • Increased scrutiny by regulators.
  • Browser tracking limitations such as masking user IP addresses so they can’t be linked to online activities or location.  

Perceived versus actual personalization 

Personalization increases the likelihood that consumers perceive content to be more relevant, which boosts satisfaction, and strengthens buying intent. Recent research has explored the difference between, and effect of actual personalization and perceived personalization on the customer experience (Lambillotte et al., 2022).

Perceived personalization is the subjective experience of the consumer. How well they think you’ve met their unique needs on the channel that means the most to them, at the time they think they most need it. The thing is, perceived personalization doesn’t always align with actual personalization (the efforts of the company to use data to create tailored experiences) because humans are fickle. 

Actual Personalization

Perceived Personalization

  • Adapts content according to consumer data
  • Business is in control of the personalization process
  • Uses AI or technology to individualize each step in a campaign
  • Interpreted as creepy and annoying
  • The subjective experience of how personalized the content feels to the consumer
  • Asks consumers for their input
  • Consumer is in control of the personalization process
  • Interpreted as inclusive and collaborative

Personalization & privacy How content can bridge the gap

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The role of content in personalized experiences

Personalization and data privacy can coexist in the form of your enterprise content. The power lies in being able to generate a digital experience that feels personal. Content can be the bridge between speaking to customers in a way that feels tailored to their voice and needs, without the need to collect a (creepy) amount of consumer data. 

The way to perceived personalization is honing your audience’s tone of voice in your content, publishing relevant content that answers their questions, with the clarity and words they feel most comfortable with. And, you have to tell a good story that’s inclusive and emotionally appealing. It sounds simple, but content that converts has way more than simply good spelling and grammar!

Acrolinx: Content customized to your business and audience

Let’s summarize what we’ve covered so far. The level of actual personalization that’s possible is increasingly limited as consumers expect more data privacy. Perceived personalization is entirely possible, and quite possibly the next big thing.

Content can improve conversion opportunities by playing into perceived personalization with certain characteristics that make content more relevant to your target audience. There’s still plenty of data involved, because we need to measure our results. But often, that data is raw performance data, which is a challenge for those of us trying to better personalize the customer journey. It tells us how content is meeting the needs of our audience, but doesn’t really point to what exactly in the content is yielding those results. Without the right technology, you’re missing out on maximizing the value of your content by improving conversion opportunities at the moment of content creation. 

Acrolinx is an AI-powered software that can help you make better use of your content performance data. It can do that by:

  • Analyzing your content’s performance and providing insights that help you make adjustments to the various characteristics of your content. Then, allows you to test those changes and see the correlation between your content goals and the performance of your content. 
  • Reminding all content contributors that there’s someone on the end of their content, by bringing your content strategy and guidelines to wherever they write. We know you’ve probably got a fantastic content strategy with detailed content guidelines about how to speak to different target audiences, with different types of content across various channels. Technology like Acrolinx can help scale and align your entire enterprise to write audience-aligned content, tailored to your business goals.  

Want to know more? 

Content has the potential to be a powerful personalization tool — it can make or break your customer experience. This blog post only scratches the surface of an ongoing discussion about data privacy and personalization. To learn more about the data you need to create content goals that trigger perceived personalization, download our eBook “Personalization & privacy: How content can bridge the gap.” 

Personalization & privacy How content can bridge the gap

Download now